So I received a job offer but I would like to wait a couple of more months to check the market and apply to other jobs. I'm just starting my job search, I'm not in a hurry and I would like to take the time to check other opportunities.

What's the best way to deny a job offer without closing the door, in other words, so that if I don't find anything better in 1-3 months I can perhaps accept the job if of course they are still interested?

Saying "Thanks, but I want to look for something better first does not sound good :)

  • Make a choice in life. If this job is not the best at this moment in time - then it will be a short gap in the future. Are you doing yourself a favour in the future and think the potential employer will not have found somebody in the future. You are not the gods creation to a potential employer – Ed Heal Mar 28 '16 at 18:03
  • @EdHeal This is a forum, not your psychiatric office. The question is very valid and if it presses your buttons I'm sorry. – Peter Mel Mar 28 '16 at 18:05
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    You think a potential employer is going to wait around for you to decide? – Ed Heal Mar 28 '16 at 18:07
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    I don't think or expect anything. I just want to find the right thing to say so I leave the door open for the near future. They might still have a spot for me in the near future, but if I tell them that for now I want to look for something better of course they will never have anything for me, ever again. – Peter Mel Mar 28 '16 at 18:09
  • This is not a forum either @PeterMel – Just Do It Mar 28 '16 at 21:15

In short, you can't.

If you turn down a job offer, then you have to expect that they have other candidates lined up that are ready to take the job. It is highly unlikely that this position will still be available in a few months. There are for more applicants than positions in this market, and there is nothing you can do to get them to hold that spot for you. You need to decide now whether this job is good enough for you or not and then respond accordingly.

  • The problem of this forum is that recruiters give totally biased answers :( There are for more applicants than positions in this market do you even know my market? I'm a deep sea explorer. There are more positions than applicants in my area. – Peter Mel Mar 28 '16 at 18:10
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    @PeterMel I am not a recruiter, but would agree with David K. Of course not all markets have more applicants than positions, but in every mainstream employment opportunity I know of, that's the case. It would be normal for an employer to interview more than one person for a position, so the employer can fill the opening in case the first choice isn't available. If your situation is different from the mainstream as you say, then perhaps only you can best answer your question? – mcknz Mar 28 '16 at 18:17
  • @mcknz Ok, so the question is not if I should or should not deny it. The question is what's the best way to deny it. What reasons should I state? – Peter Mel Mar 28 '16 at 18:19
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    @PeterMel 1. I am not a recruiter, I'm an engineer. Perhaps you are the one who is biased against recruiters. 2. No, I don't know your market, because you didn't tell us. If you want a useful answer, then you need to include all of the relevant information. If what you say is true, then your field is by and far the exception, not the rule. And even then, I still wouldn't hold your breath on having that job available. – David K Mar 28 '16 at 18:19

The only thing you can do here is state the truth: you're not ready to accept the position at this time. You don't have to justify your decision to the employer, though if you want to keep the door open, it would be wise to say positive things about the company and the position -- which shouldn't be hard since you made the decision to apply in the first place.

You could ask how long you have to make a decision. If, as you suggest, there are not many applicants, you may be able to take a couple of weeks to explore other options and see what else there is. Mostly likely though, the company will move on immediately to their next best option, as is in their interest.

Don't feel obligated to accept a job just because it's offered. If you're not convinced to work there now, you're probably making the right decision. Sometimes it takes some research, time, and experience interviewing with different companies to know what the right decision will look like.

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    In my experience a week it feasible. Two weeks is pushing it. Three then you are lucky. So the company will make a choice that you are not interested in them so any further jobs will not be open to you for a while. – Ed Heal Mar 28 '16 at 18:39
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    @EdHeal agreed -- a lot of companies want your answer immediately, within one or two days. This would be a best-case scenario for the OP, and assuming that qualified candidates for the position are hard to find. – mcknz Mar 28 '16 at 18:42
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    @PeterMel only issue with that is they may wonder why you applied in the first place. If the personal problems are 1) out of your control, 2) do not put you in a negative light, and 3) may end reasonably soon, then it may not hurt to mention. If they perceive you as someone who may just jump at the next available offer, they would be less inclined to give you a second chance in the future. – mcknz Mar 28 '16 at 20:15
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    Are you having personal problems? Or just making it up so you can have an excuse @PeterMel ? – Just Do It Mar 28 '16 at 21:19
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    "You could ask how long you have to make a decision." This is what I believe is key. An interview is not just for the employer to see if the employee is good enough for the company. it's also to see if you fit the company. It's not weird to ask for time to decide. You could also say you have other interviews lined up and need time to decide. At this point. it's always good to praise the company as you ask for more time. make them feel you like them, but are also a rare commodity. – Migz Mar 29 '16 at 6:51

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